Giving blood

Today I could have been to give blood for the 25th time.

I say “could have”, because I don’t really know. Technically I *could* have given blood around 67 times if I had given the maximum possible number of times.

But, surely you know how many times you’ve given blood?

Yes, but this is how many times I’ve *been* to give blood. Today I went, but I didn’t actually give blood.

Because of COVID they’ve introduced some new precautions when giving blood. Primarily this is an additional person at the main door who asks whether you’ve had a persistent cough, a high fever or loss of taste/smell (you know, the classic symptoms). She was about to let me in, but then asked if I’d had a cold sore.

I had indeed recently had a cold sore. It’s almost healed now, but you can still see the mark. I had checked the cold sore guidance before I had gone: “If you are not taking any oral medication and have no other sexually transmitted disease or problems with your health you may give blood if the cold sore is dry and not tingling.” So that implies that I should be fine.

The woman checked her COVID sheet and told me that I needed to wait 28 days after cold sore symptoms before I donate. I hadn’t heard of that but I was happy to accept it was the new COVID rules. I checked this when I got home, and the coronavirus pages do indeed say: “In addition, currently have a cold sore, please do not attend.” Yes, it doesn’t mention the 28 days for cold sores here (which it does for the other symptoms), and that it’s not as detailed as the cold sore page, but I’m not blaming the woman on the desk as the rules appear to be complicated and it’s better to be safe than sorry. [Side note: This is the only place I’ve seen any link, albeit vague, between cold sores and coronavirus.] But the intention of this post wasn’t to talk about cold sores or coronavirus…

So you’ve *been* to give blood 24 times previously?

Well, as I said before, I don’t know, mainly because I’ve never counted. There was a long string of appointments that kept getting cancelled shortly before. On one of these occasions, I had already left work to get the train to the appointment before I got the text saying it was cancelled. Should that count as me *going* to the appointment? What about the time I went to give blood but had been abroad recently and so was ineligible? I could have probably checked that one before I got there, but I didn’t actually give blood and so it doesn’t actually count on my record.

So what does your record say?

It says I’ve given blood 18 times.

That wasn’t so hard was it?

Well actually, I’ve only given blood 17 times. Last time I went to give blood, my iron levels were low – still well within normal levels, but just not high enough to donate. This is one of the few criteria where it’s possible to turn up, not actually give blood, but still get credit for doing so (but with a three low iron strikes and you’re out for good). Would my iron levels have been high enough to donate this time? I don’t know because I didn’t get that far in the process. What I do know though is that today almost certainly won’t count as a donation credit in my blood donation record.